The impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt across industries – from retail and restaurants to hospitality and travel. As the number of lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders increases across the country, U.S. consumers are increasingly staying at home. Gravy wondered how visits to different types of places were being affected by changes in consumer behavior resulting from social distancing and COVID-19. We looked at 1.6B consumer visits between March 1 and March 25, 2020, to commercial places of interest in eleven different categories to understand how visit patterns have changed to date.
Here is what we observed:
Device Visits by Category
Daily device visits to all place categories declined during the month of March. Unique visits for most categories peaked on March 13, dropped dramatically on March 14 and 15, and continued to decline more gradually through March 22. Between March 22 and March 25, device visits began to stabilize. Shopping destinations continued to have the most visitors out of all categories. Restaurants, etc. had the second-highest number of visitors, followed by Service and Automobile-related places, respectively.
Devices by Category
To compare changes across categories, we indexed daily device visits in March to same day-of-week visits during February. With the exception of Arts and Automobile, all categories saw lower than average daily device visits starting in early March. Most categories saw a spike in average device visits around March 12 or 13, followed by significant declines on March 14 and 15. A gradual decline across categories continued until March 21, when there was a slight uptick in visitors for some, including Arts and Entertainment.
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Arts, Entertainment, and Outdoors
Many entertainment and arts-related events have been canceled or remain indefinitely postponed. As of March 25, average daily visits in the categories of Entertainment and Entertainment – Nightlife had fallen by 76% and 72%, respectively. In contrast, average daily device visits in the category of Outdoors & Recreation category decreased by just 24%. Clearly, people are still going to parks to exercise, walk their dog, or get fresh air while staying socially distant.
Accommodations, Automotive, & Transportation
During the first part of March, places in the categories of Accommodations, Automotive, and Transportation all saw lower than average foot traffic. Like other categories, all saw a pronounced decline starting mid-March. However, daily device visits to auto-related places appear to be less impacted than visits to either hotels or transportation hubs. While auto shops and other auto-related destinations are considered essential businesses, more consumers are avoiding non-essential travel and working from home, resulting in fewer visits to hotels and airports.
Restaurants, Banking, Shopping, & Service
Many retail stores, like grocery and home improvement stores, are considered essential services and remain open. For this reason, daily visits in the Shopping category remain comparatively high – just 36% lower than average as of March 25. By March 21, daily visitors to restaurants had decreased by about 65%, but the category saw a slight uptick in visitors toward the end of the month. This could be due to more restaurants offering curbside pickup and delivery options.
Change in Visitors by Category
While all place categories saw substantial declines in visitors during March, not all were equally impacted. As of March 25, places in non-essential categories such as Entertainment and Entertainment – Nightlife saw the largest declines in daily device visits. Places in more “essential” categories, including Shopping, Services, Automobile, and Banking & Finance, were comparatively less affected by social distancing and COVID-19.
How has COVID-19 impacted your industry? How are businesses in your area adapting to COVID-19? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Reach out to us or connect with us via social media.